I am a shutterbug, thanks to years of hanging around with my dad. I love to take pictures, which is why I am a great

What Makes A Camera Good?

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I am a shutterbug, thanks to years of hanging around with my dad. I love to take pictures, which is why I am a great fan of good cameras on phones. Given any two smartphones, chances are that I will pick the one with the better camera unless it is so bad as a smartphone that I am left with no option but to pick the other.

I got to reading a feature article from the PureView Club website in which the reviewers compared night shots from two PureView devices, the Nokia 808 PureView and the spanking new Nokia Lumia 920. In the comparison shots taken, the Lumia 920 produced results that were not reflective of the reality on ground by introducing light that wasn’t present. I quote from the comparison:

We actually didn’t know where the Lumia 920 got all the light from. The sky was much darker than this, hell – everything was much darker than this. I’d like to stress this shot was only resized, I didn’t change anything else (except putting the name of the source in).

What Makes A Good Camera?

So much noise has been made about the low-light capabilities of the Lumia 920, but if the results from these shots are anything to go by, it is clear that the 920 does not capture reality. It enhances (or rather distorts) it. My definition of a good camera (and I am sure that photography people will agree) is one that captures and reproduces exactly what is seen by the eye, and not one that enhances it. When shown a picture taken by a good camera, the sun, the sky, the water – everything – should be as good a reproduction of the real scene. I want to look at the picture later and remember what everything looked like to the eye. The low-light Lumia 920 pictures that I have seen seem to violate this standard.

On this score, the Nokia 808 PureView is one of the best that I have seen. it captures details and reproduces as much as possible what is seen by the eye. Why should a dark night-time shot look like it was taken mid-day?

Special Effects Cameras?

What the Lumia 920 seems to do is churn out enhanced results that do not reflect reality. People also love the iPhone’s camera because it produces brighter colours than what is actually seen with the eye (at least this is how it has been explained to me). Both of these cameras do not reproduce reality, yet turn out amazing looking shots. Perhaps it is time to start classifying cameraphones into regular cameras and “special effects” cameras?

The Lumia 920 unit would be the equivalent of a “night vision” camera. It would be lovely for some special occasions and scenarios. As far as I am concerned, both the Lumia 920 and iPhone cameras would fall under the category of special effects. They fail in accuracy by making the images look “better” than they really are.

For everyday use, I want a good camera – one that reproduces scenes accurately. Special effects? Well, if I were a movie director or something, maybe….

Meanwhile, do take a few minutes to check out the PureView Club’s Astonishing night scenes from Amsterdam, shot with the Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia 808.


  1. What the eyes cannot see doesn’t necessarily mean they are not there. It is just that those cameras may be equipped to see better than the human eyes in the dark and not necessarily enhancements through software but since they are meant to reproduce same for humans, that may be a bad thing in some situations.

  2. Instagram and similar have distorted people’s views of what is a good natural camera shot, especially in poor lighting.

    It seems to me that the iPhone 5 and Lumia 920 cameras are giving what (they think) people want without having to resort to a special effects app/software.

  3. i guess i should behave myself and refrain from commenting. So long as the camera gives me an image that looks like me or erm…better than me (what?? cant have an ugly DP on bbm na)then I’m fine. oh yes, it must have a flash.

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